Eye on the tropics: Atlantic storms brewing; 1909 hurricane brought martial law to the Keys

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UPDATE: Subtropical Storm Melissa came to life off the Mid-Atlantic Coast on Friday with 65 mph winds, but the storm is expected to be short-lived. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predicted Melissa would become post-tropical by Saturday night as it moves away from the U.S. Coast. (Image credit: NHC)

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1909 Hurricane

HURRICANE HISTORY: Friday is the 110th anniversary of the 1909 Key West Hurricane, which slammed the island city with winds of up to 94 mph and destroyed 500 homes. Conditions were so chaotic after the storm that Mayor Joseph Fogarty declared martial law and had guards patrolling the streets. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

TROPICS WATCH: The long-range GFS forecast model had been suggesting development in the southern Caribbean in mid-October, pushing a system into Central America. Now, the National Hurricane Center is on board with the scenario, forecasting a low to form early next week near the coasts of Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.

Friday’s run of the GFS shows the system emerging back over water in the Bay of Campeche by the middle of next week, then taking a more north-northeasterly turn toward the Central Gulf of Mexico Coast.

This is echoed by the Canadian model (CMC), which puts a much stronger hurricane in the Gulf toward the end of next week.

The European model (ECMWF) seems to be keeping whatever weak low develops over land.

The disturbance off the coast of the northeastern U.S., designated Invest 93L by the NHC, was close to becoming Subtropical Storm Melissa Friday morning, but the window for intensification was closing, according to forecasters. Upper-level winds over the system were expected to disrupt the storm as it begins to move away from the U.S. Coast.

And in another interesting development, the NHC said a tropical wave was expected to slide off the coast of western Africa on Sunday.

“Although the far eastern Atlantic is not climatologically favorable for tropical cyclone formation this late in the hurricane season, some development of this system appears possible early next week while it moves generally northwestward near or over the Cabo Verde Islands,” NHC forecaster Andy Latto said Friday.

The next two names on the Atlantic storm list are Melissa and Nestor.

Based on climatology from 1966-2009, two named storms form in October and one in November.

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ABOVE: For the upcoming week, the map shows points of origin for Atlantic tropical cyclones since records began in 1851. BELOW: Friday morning’s Tropical Weather Outlook map. Invest 93L off the northeast coast had a 60 percent chance of development. The NHC said advisories could begin later on Friday. (Image credit: NHC)

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RAINFALL REPORT: A CoCoRaHS observer near Melbourne reported 1.68 inches of rain on Thursday, but overall coverage across the peninsula was far short of the shellacking that some areas received Tuesday and Wednesday. The National Weather Service officially reported 0.28 of an inch in Melbourne.

An observer near Hialeah in Miami-Dade County reported 1.04 inches. Miami International Airport officially measured just 0.7 of an inch.

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RECORD WATCH: Sarasota posted a record high Thursday with 94, besting the old record of 93 set in 1962. Naples tied a record high with 93, matching the mark set in 2007.

Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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